Plinky Prompt: Which Holiday Would You Rather Skip?

  • Holidays
  • Just Say Good-Night
    new year’s eve merch New Year’s Eve.
    I never liked New Year’s Eve, EVER. I guess not liking alcohol is part of it but it always seemed so forced to me, so fake. Then, when my dad died on New Year’s Eve, eleven years ago, that definitely sealed the deal. Sometimes my husband and I will stay up to midnight and watch the ball drop on tv, and toast to a better year (every year.) If I had my way I would nestle under the covers at around ten-thirty pm and wake up the next year just as happy. I stay up till midnight if it’s important to my husband, if not, nighty-night.

Ringing in 2012

Really Not A HOLIDAY For Me

sleep

When the clock strikes midnight tonight, I hope to be sleeping, it’s not a joyous holiday for me. At 10:15pm I will be staring at the clock and remember in full detail, nine years ago when I received the call from my mom that my father had just passed away in the hospital. I was sitting on our bed, my legs crossed and I was crying, sobbing so hard I could barely breathe. My children were little then, my son was ten and he burst into tears just looking at my face and he screamed “no, no, no” and rushed into my arms for a hug. My daughter was even younger, she was eight and I’m not sure she understood what was really happening or if she did, she couldn’t handle her emotions. To this day, she keeps her emotions tucked inside of her like a well ironed handkerchief.

My husband gathered me in his arms and just let me sob. Years ago, my son told me that he thought I would sob like that forever. That’s what it felt like to him, it must have been very scary, for that I am so sorry.

I don’t think I slept that night or for many nights thereafter. If I did finally fall asleep it would be for two hours at a time and I would wake up with a start and that horrible feeling that something was terribly, terribly wrong. Then, I would remember and start crying again.

We generally go out for an early dinner on New Year’s Eve, my husband and I. Tonight we are going to my favorite restaurant “The Flying Pig” (see post) that is also closing it’s doors, forever, tonight. My son will join us for dinner and leave and my daughter will  be working there tonight. It all seems like an appropriate ending to the night, when my father died, nine years ago.

If I can’t sleep at midnight, I hope to be lying next to my husband, with his arms around me until I get tired enough that I will eventually fall into an exhausted sleep. Tomorrow will not be better either, my parents’ wedding anniversary is January 1st. I think, we will all cry together, alone, wishing for the day to pass quickly even as the moments drag for what seems like hours.

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The In-Between

Malheur Bière Brut

It’s the week between Christmas and New Years, a strange time. You are not yet finished with 2011 and you can’t wait to say good-bye but New Year’s Eve is not in sight just quite yet. It’s always been a long week for me. In our town, it’s nice and quiet, people go away for the holidays; the town has lots of parking, the streets are empty; it’s a quiet, gentler period of time. Personally, it’s a struggle. I remember the last Christmas we had with my dad many years ago, when he went into the hospital and how he died on New Year’s Eve, a day before my parents’ wedding anniversary. It’s not a memory that will ever fade in emotion or intensity.

For many years now I’ve tried to say goodbye to the old year, hoping, wishing, EXPECTING the New Year to be better. Not any more. As I’ve gotten older it just seems to be a pattern that happens every year. There are NO long bouts of happiness, there may not be long bouts of depression, but there are problems, pretty much, all the time. When you have a day that is problem free, celebrate.

A lesson for us who are no longer young, but older middle-aged ( I refuse to say OLD) is that we need to accept that our lives have changed permanently. I talk about this with my friends. For some of us it’s being in the sandwich generation, having children and parents (or parent in my case) needing, deserving more attention and care. It’s scary every direction we look. We are responsible for our own children, now independent teenagers and our parents who are no longer as independent as they once were.

How can we look forward when we have no control over our lives? If I had to list the one thing that worries me most it would be the unknown, how life can change drastically in one second, for the worse. We have no control over anything, and the only way I can deal with that is not to deal with it at all. You have to try to live your life to the fullest every day, be thankful when there is a good day, ride the waves, bend with the wind. I don’t like the feeling of uncertainty and I know many others don’t either; we have no choice. We must try hard not to focus on it, remain engaged in things and people we love. Stay in the moment. Every moment.

So lift a glass of champagne or orange juice, chocolate milk or wine, for the good times, the ones we should treasure and try to remember. It’s the only way to get by.  To the Best 2012 that’s possible. Cheers!

Hugs

Hug Steve

Image by basykes via Flickr

At 55 I finally figured out why I still love stuffed animals so much. I know, I’m no brain trust; it took me this long to figure it out. Sometimes I even shock myself; it’s pathetic. I like the comfort of sleeping with a stuffed animal friend for the feeling of a hug, warmth, soft comfort. These days I have been sleeping with my arm around Zippy, the monkey; he was popular in the fifties and sixties and I just ordered a new one. He resembles closely my monkey friend that my dad bought me when I was two, from Lamston’s department store named Nokey (I couldn’t pronounce monkey at the time) who still lives in my bedroom and sits on a special shelf of honor. Nokey has had a face lift, an entire body lift and went to the best plastic surgeon in Europe, alas, he barely clings to life. As my entire family knows I want to be buried with Nokey, cremated together, whatever they have to do to keep us together. He wears a onesie that both my children wore when they were infants; at first I thought that was charming until my older sister cracked up and cackled like a witch and said it looks like an ad for elderly “underwear. “Now it doesn’t look AS charming as before, I have to admit. I hate it when she is right!

I remember almost eleven years ago I was in the supermarket shortly after my father died. I couldn’t move, I felt stuck, leaning on my carriage, holding on and crying quietly. I so wanted someone, anyone to ask if I was okay but they didn’t. They probably thought I was a crazy person and didn’t want to bother with me. All I remembered was that I wanted a hug, a gentle hug to know that someone was there for me, a concerned stranger, the assistant manager, anyone. People walked by me but no one stopped. I felt so incredibly alone and let’s face it, I was. Eventually the tears dried up, and slowly I dragged my swollen feet in uncomfortable black snow boots out of there. I honestly didn’t think I had the life left in me to go one step after the other to exit the cheery Christmas decorated grocery store, but I did. I had no choice.

I have a love/hate relationship with the holidays since my father died on New Year’s Eve, I have lived with that for eleven years and I know I will always live with it. There are some things that don’t change, some years are a little better, some years it’s worse, there is no way of telling. My parents’ wedding anniversary was/is January 1, st. I knew he wouldn’t die on their anniversary, he just wouldn’t. Christmas, like any personal holiday will always be known to me, as before he died, and after. That’s how those things work; I envy my husband who is lucky not to have lost a parent yet, truly and undeniably lucky.

I have a friend who is going through a particularly rough time right now. She is in the middle of some major decisions and while her attitude is positive she faces tough times ahead. I see her face from afar and all I want to do is wrap my arms around her and hug her. That’s my way though, of dealing with sadness and stress, I don’t know if it is hers. All I can do is offer. Do you need a hug? If so, I’m here.

To all my friends and family, if you need a hug, I am always here. If you need a virtual hug, I will send it to you.

Hug therapy, you, me. For free.

My First Experience with Death

Heaven

Grief Lasts A Lifetime

When I was very young my best friend Claudine and I sat on the floor of my bedroom and played with my two turtles. Apparently I injured the turtle ACCIDENTALLY. I didn’t know it at the time because my father played doctor and I remember the turtle’s frail neck had been wrapped with white bandages. He smelled like the red, antiseptic medicine that my mom used on my skinned knees. I don’t remember being particularly upset over the sudden demise of the turtle but I do remember that my dad, who of course knew it was dead, pretended to nurse him back to health, for me.
That same loving man, my father, died ten years ago. He died New Year’s Eve 2001 an hour before my parents’ wedding anniversary on January 1st. I remember that horrible night in excruciating detail, I was sitting on my bed and the phone rang and it was my mother. “It’s over, it’s done” she said and I sobbed for what seemed forever and grieved for a very long time. I still miss my dad, I will always miss him. Sometimes I do get messages or signs from him and I believe in that. How do you recover from someone’s death? You don’t. Not ever. There will be a new world for you and it will be divided into before the death and after. You are now a member of a new club for adult children who have lost a parent and it’s not a club you ever wanted to join. You have no choice. Intense pain and grief get less frequent with time but there will always be moments, at least for me, when the pain feels fresh and raw. I was in Targets six weeks ago and I automatically turned into the Father’s Day card section. I remember I stood still and openly gasped. I had to hold on to my cart to steady myself. Only then did I stop and remember I had no one to send it to. I didn’t have a dad who was alive anymore in the physical world. Tears filled my eyes and I left the store quickly; my eyes were so blurry it was hard to see.

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Good-Bye 2010; I Won’t Miss You.

066 | 365 listless

Image by sweethardt via Flickr

I know it’s New Year’s Eve and I’m supposed to have some quirky, funny wrap up of the year we have almost left but I’m sorry, I just can’t do it. I can’t wrap up this last depressing year into a neatly wrapped Christmas present tied with a big, red sparkling bow. This last year has been horrible and I can’t wait to see it leave us alone and go away. I don’t care about the Times Square ball dropping and the countdown. Nothing says partying to me more than having two cups of non-alcoholic eggnog, a few Ghiradelli dark chocolate brownies, slipping into my monkey night-shirt and deeply sleeping through the transition of one year to the next.

I admit that I was never much of a party girl for New Year’s Eve before but I do have a legitimate reason not to feel festive these days. My dad died on New Year’s Eve ten years ago. I can’t remember what I had for lunch today but I can’t forget that my mom called me on the phone ten years ago at 10:20pm and told me bluntly “it’s over.” At first I really didn’t understand what she meant. I can’t forget the look of my eight -year- old son screaming “NOOOOO” and  the innocent look in my six-year-old daughter’s bright blue eyes. I remember my husband storming into the room as I started wailing and rocking back and forth, for a very long time, sobbing and holding on to myself and to him. The next thing I remember I was in the fetal position on the bed, moaning.

Mornings after that were the worst for me. I hated waking up each morning, knowing that something was terribly wrong and needing a minute to remember what it was. That in-between state of dreaming and awake was like cruel punishment.  I had a husband, two young children and a puppy that needed me, that saved me and I needed them even more.

In the last few weeks I have felt the best in my life and the worst. My heart has been open and trusting and giving and it has been crushed, cruelly like a sharp ice pick  through young, vulnerable skin. I can see the blood dripping on the beautiful untouched, glittering snow but I can’t believe it. I don’t know what’s real and what’s fake these days.

I’ve grown-up quite a bit this year and I have made amazing progress about boundaries with my extended family. I am no longer the public defender, I have stepped down from that role. I will only comment on what happens between me and another person and everyone else is on their own. For me, this is huge.

Once in a while you take a step forward and then you stumble backwards, sometimes falling straight down to the black ice and breaking bones, sometimes lucky enough to catch an extended, sturdy, warm hand and walk away. It’s all we can ask for. Hope, Trust, Friendship, Love and Health. This is my wish for you.

poor sad little girl

Sadness

Image via Wikipedia

my heart aches for someone i have never met. poor sad little girl is in a hospital and i didn’t even know it, she never told me. little clues started appearing that didn’t make sense and she finally said “i guess i’m good at hiding things well.” i do not know this person yet i feel so sad for her, with her.

it’s nearly christmas and the new year and i wish poor sad little girl had a place to go to, or something to look forward to. i asked her to think of one teeny tiny thing that makes her happy, a book, person, or a television show, a food or a thought and she said she would have to think about it and would get back to me. that is heartbreaking; poor sad little girl should be able to say one thing at least that brings her even a tiny bit of happiness but she can’t and i understand that, i do. my life is far from perfect but i could in a minute mention silly things like eating multi-grain toast with butter, honey and cheddar cheese or the smell of a mug of jasmine tea or i could say that my husband and two kids and my dog make me happy but i was hoping she could find something all i wanted was for her to mention one thing but she couldn’t come up with one right away and she probably can’t but she will one day soon i hope.

i want to nurture everyone, save them, make them happier, it is just part of my personality and it comes naturally to me? perhaps it is because i am a libra or because i am intuitive and sensitive. sensitivity is not necessarily a good thing really. you feel things strongly but you don’t just necessarily pick up on other people’s feelings you feel them too. too much so that it ends up affecting your own life and you need to find a delicate balance and shake yourself back to your own reality and know that there is a difference.

don’t give up poor sad little girl, and all the sad little girls out there, don’t ever give up and please try to remember that things will get better, really they will. there are people who love you and  each of you have a purpose in this life just sometimes we all get lost a little bit and we need to find our own way. and i know that you can and that you will, just hang on tightly all of you.

poor sad little girl, i am glad this year will end in a few days time. and i wish, like magic, that you wake up in the year 2011 with twinkling eyes and soft white hands and at first a tentative smile but then a broad smile like a slice of fresh pink watermelon.

this is my prayer.

DEDICATED TO MY SWEET GIRL, ALI and for all the Ali’s in the world. Love, “MUM”

“Because I Am”

Black balloons

Image by stvno via Flickr

Tonight I am having a pity party for one; I am the guest of honor. You are welcome to join me but motivational speeches and happy clichés are not allowed. I’ve learned that the sun will probably not come out tomorrow, it will be cold, dark and windy just like the last few weeks. Some of my friends with chronic illnesses seem to be feeling the same way: Is it the weather?  Seasonal Affective Disorder? Pain and unhappiness? Other friends that don’t have chronic illnesses are also fed up and feeling down. I’m wallowing in self-pity and I am allowing myself to do so. Wallowing and venting are the main attractions in my self-imposed symposium.

1) Both my husband and I have been very discouraged because of the job market; he has been unemployed for a long time. He is always the best candidate, the one they love, the one they want. We get excited, euphoric even, and then the final news hits us like a tsunami: “We would love to have him but there is no funding approved for this job now” or “There’s a hiring freeze that just  started.” We plummet, like rapidly deflating black balloons.

2) I need to protect myself from future painful disappointments. While, in the past, I have tried to feel positive and hopeful,  I am now keeping my defenses up because it is too damn painful to feel excited and then let down over and over again.I am tired of feeling bad and blue and not having anything to look forward to. Yes, I have tried to be positive, I count my blessings and I list the things that I am grateful for: nothing works. A good friend of mine told me she was depressed last week and I asked her “why?”  “Because I am” she said. I now understand that completely.

4) Physically, I have no energy. I’ve been over-eating and sleeping way too much these past two weeks. I’m trying to sleep straight through to May but the chances of that are pretty slim. I stopped taking the autoimmune drug that was helping my energy level because it made my legs ache continuously and I wanted to rid myself of extra pain. This is what happens when I try to rid myself of drugs and toxins in my body. I end up asleep. I made the wrong decision.

5) The holiday season is not joyful for me. After my father died, the holiday spirit died with him. We go through the motions for the children. I’ve accepted this but each year after his birthday in November things start to go downhill fast, straight through to New Year’s Eve, the night he passed away. Why can’t I prepare myself? Why is it only familiar when it is happening again? Think of it as a long, a really long extended period of situational depression.

6) I’m having a default Thanksgiving in my house this year. My mom broke her wrist and I just couldn’t let her have it in her house. She is also depressed because of her broken bone and pain and having to be dependent on others, this affects me too. I feel bad for her. I can’t begin to talk about my self-involved sister, there is too much to say and at the same time, nothing to say. Thanksgiving is in one week, I have nothing prepared and I am both overwhelmed and underwhelmed.  I will rally for the holidays because I have to; it’s a necessity not a choice.

Let me tell you directly what I want:  Accept how I feel and allow me to have the emotions I do have. Don’t analyze, debate or criticize me. Try active listening. Help out during Thanksgiving and be kind to one another. I would truly be grateful if you could do just that.